Anticancer agents coupled to N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide copolymers. I. Evaluation of daunomycin and puromycin conjugates in vitro

Br J Cancer. 1987 Feb;55(2):165-74. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1987.33.


During recent years N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide (HPMA) copolymers have been developed as targetable drug carriers. These soluble synthetic polymers are internalized by cells by pinocytosis and they can be tailor-made to include peptidyl side-chains degradable intracellularly by specific lysosomal enzymes. Thus they provide the opportunity fo achieve controlled intracellular delivery of anticancer agents. The anthracycline antibiotic daunomycin, and protein synthesis inhibitor puromycin, were bound to HPMA copolymers via several different peptide side-chains, including Gly-Gly, Gly-Phe-Leu-Gly and Gly-Phe-Phe-Leu. Incubation of polymer-drug conjugates with isolated lysosomal enzymes (either a mixture of rat liver lysosomal enzymes or purified thiol-dependent lysosomal proteinases, cathepsins L and B) showed that significant release of drug occurred over 20 h, more than 20% of daunomycin and more than 80% of puromycin being liberated. To test their pharmacological activity conjugates were incubated with either the mouse leukaemia L1210, or the human lymphoblastoid leukaemia CCRF in vitro. The conjugates tested were all less effective than free daunomycin, but they showed differential toxicity against L1210 depending on the aminoacid sequence of their drug-polymer linkage. Inclusion of fucosylamine-terminating side-chains into the HPMA copolymer structure increased the affinity of conjugates for the L1210 cell membrane and resulted in increased toxicity. In contrast HPMA-daunomycin conjugates with or without fucosylamine affected CCRF cells equally, but this cell line was more sensitive than the mouse leukaemia to both free and polymer-bound daunomycin. Incubation of L1210 cells in polymer-bound daunomycin for 72 h, followed by plating cells out in low density in drug-free medium, showed that a concentration of polymer-bound drug (184 micrograms ml-1) could be selected to achieve a cytotoxic effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acrylates / administration & dosage*
  • Animals
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry
  • Daunorubicin / metabolism
  • Daunorubicin / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / metabolism
  • Leukemia L1210 / pathology*
  • Leukemia, Lymphoid / pathology*
  • Methacrylates / administration & dosage*
  • Mice
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Puromycin / metabolism
  • Puromycin / pharmacology*


  • Acrylates
  • Methacrylates
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Puromycin
  • hydroxypropyl methacrylate
  • Daunorubicin